doing it right

Pile Burn at Wombat Hill

Despite the dark clouds hanging overhead, 17 people gathered in the front paddock of Wombat Hill to get the good oil on pile burning from the Brigade's Senior Deputy Captain, Alistair Wood.

After sorting out what you can and what you can't burn in a pile, the safety precautions that are to be taken and discussing the appropriate attire for just such an operation, they got down to the task at hand.

It came as quite a surprise to some that the recommended size of a pile should not exceed 2 metres in width and length and no more than a metre and a half in height. Many would have been thinking back to the days of Bonfire Night, where the bigger the heap the better - and let's not worry about how many old tyres, mattresses, green timber and such like that was tossed onto the pile....

The problem with a pile that tall is that it burns with much more intensity than a low, wide pile and it retains heat for a much longer period of time, making it a more hazardous undertaking.

Also of interest was the fact that piles are always lit into the wind - not with the wind as many had previously thought.

Nobody present admitted to thinking that a pile would be more successful if lit in the heat of the day and with the wind howling along behind the flames....and by the time Alistair was finished with the group, all such urban myths would have been dispelled.

There were several useful publications available on the day:

These publications are readily available from the links above, from the Brigade Community Engagement Office, (phone 0459 226 555), from the Fire Control Centre, Cnr Etheridge and Priestly Streets, Mittagong or via the RFS website -

Lesley Wood
Community Liaison Officer

The crowd gathers

Making sure there's a reliable water source

Apparently a neatly trimmed heap burns better....

Always light against the wind

Keeping a close eye on progress

Robbie has promised to produce a Bush Fire Survival Plan - written down and clearly displayed

Father and son team - David and Greg go away well supplied with reading material

Burning well, even when the temperature is cool enough for spectators to be wearing coats

All done and dusted! The wood ash is now ready to be read out over the paddock.